Prioritizing property in flood mitigation investments often devalues people. It also means that the possessions of people of low wealth and communities of color are undervalued and overlooked. The Miami Foundation commissioned the Urban Institute to review the policy and practice of benefit-cost analysis (BCA) in federally funded flood mitigation investments and their consideration of social equity, defined in distributive, procedural, recognitional, and reparative dimensions. This report (1) summarizes the state of federal BCA requirements in relation to social equity, (2) synthesizes observations about BCA’s implementation across five case studies, and (3) provides recommendations for adjustments to BCA methods, protocols, and interpretations. We recommend both that BCA flexibility, criteria, and assumptions be expanded and that the results of a BCA not be the sole criterion for investment. Federal requirements for authentic community engagement should also be elevated. Finally, historical disparities should be addressed by prioritizing investments in the most vulnerable populations.
A Review of Benefit-Cost Analysis in Federal Flood Mitigation Infrastructure